Building for a Net Zero future
WSP was engaged to support the NSW Government and their delivery partner AW Edwards with Sustainability Consultancy, Indigenous Specialist Services and Digital Services on the Leppington Commuter Car Park (opened in November 2021) and the Edmondson Park South Commuter Car Park (opened in February 2022).
The car parks have been designed to achieve a carbon-positive outcome, considering whole-of-life emissions including construction activities, embodied emissions from materials, and 50 years of operation. Key initiatives to achieve this Net Zero vision include the incorporation of a rooftop solar PV, that generates 2.3 times the amount of energy required. These car parks also include electric vehicle charging stations to encourage the shift to low-emission vehicles. Other energy savings come in the form of highly efficient LED lighting with motion sensors and daylight dimming sensors.
The structural design and construction materials also contributed to the sustainability target. The designs were optimised to reduce the amount of concrete and reinforcing steel needed and replaced with sustainable alternatives. For example, a concrete mix was selected that has an average 35% recycled material to replace Portland cement. The reinforcing steel procured has an estimated 65-80% recycled scrap content and Environmental Product Declarations demonstrating lower embodied carbon.
The designs also included sustainable water solutions, including a rainwater capture system.
For both car parks, the overall embodied carbon emissions are expected to be reduced by an estimated 18%, equating to 3,866 tonnes CO2-e avoided. The remaining embodied carbon emissions will be more than offset through operational carbon emission savings over 50 years.
Image Courtesy of Transport for NSW
Leppington Commuter Car Park - Electric vehicle charging spaces at Leppington multi-storey commuter car park
A canvas for Aboriginal art at Leppington
In early design meetings for the Leppington Commuter Car Park, an opportunity to acknowledge Country by incorporating Aboriginal artwork into the project was raised. Michael Hromek, WSP’s Technical Executive of Indigenous (Architecture), Design and Knowledge, was brought in to present an ‘Aboriginal Design Principles’ concept to the design team, which included AW Edwards, Caldis Cook Group (the architect) and TTW (civil, structures and façade design).
“In the initial workshop, we wanted to get everyone aligned with our principles and methodology, pass on some introductory information about the language groups and ancestral groups, and increase the cultural competency of the team,” says Michael.
One of the early concepts presented to the design team was to incorporate an Indigenous art piece into the façade design by Darug artist Dr Shane Smithers a vision that was particularly impressive. “When we showed a mock-up of Dr Smithers’ artwork ‘Where Sky Meets Earth, 2021’, everyone responded enthusiastically,” adds Michael. “We provided different views and angles of the artwork to give a better idea of what it could look like on the car park’s façade, showing potential patterns, colours, and complexity of treatments.”
Commenting on the project, David Oliver, Senior Design Manager of AW Edwards, says, “We have been looking for ways to recognise the Aboriginal heritage of lands that our projects are on. For us to get the opportunity to create these façades that are a real, permanent visual message, has been very satisfying. Accompanied by an interpretive sign that explain the story behind the artwork, hopefully people are engaging with the history. To us, that's a real contribution to the community."
Michael adds, “We were very keen to bring to life the fact that every different Country has a different design vernacular. Shane’s outcomes are fantastic, but it is also very important that his work is culturally legitimate and uses the local Darug vernacular, such as featuring lines, not dots.”
Shane joined the project team and attended site visits and design meetings. He was also involved through a co-design process, helping the team interpret his artwork into the façade design.
Shane says, "This artwork is about this abundant country where the generative forces of the sky and earth come together to create life. This is the place where I live, where you live, where we live, together walking on the earth, touching the sky."
Shane, of the Burraberongal clan, described the vertical white lines as representing our connection to sky, meeting the horizontal red lines (connection to earth) is an abstraction of the Darug 'Country pattern' which is a simple hatch, ‘spread out like a chequerboard suggesting that the sky meets the earth, as a blanket covers the ground’.
The outcome of this successful co-design process between an Aboriginal knowledge holder and the project design team is a large-scale interpretation of a contemporary Darug artwork, rendered in glorious scale on the façade of the Leppington Commuter Car Park.
Michael says his favourite part of the project was being able to, “Turn a car park into a canvas for Aboriginal art which we don’t often see, particularly at that size and scale.”
Following the success of the co-design process for the Leppington Commuter Car Park, Shane’s artwork ‘Ghost Trees and the Lost Woodland, 2021’ was similarly translated into the façade of the Edmondson Park South Commuter Car Park.
Inspiring the community
The two car park projects have been described as landmark projects for Transport for NSW – both for their standout Net Zero credentials as well as their sensitive incorporation of Indigenous design concepts and aesthetics.
Dayna Surlan, one of WSP’s Sustainability Design Consultants says, “The car parks contribute to urban location and heritage interpretation. “We helped re-envision a car park beyond being a concrete shell that doesn’t give much to the surrounding area or the suburbs. It brings back some Indigenous knowledge into the land, which is incredible.”
By caring about climate change and the environment, we are caring for Country. By bringing Aboriginal art into our urban fabric, we bring Country to the city and into the daily life of all its inhabitants.
Future proofing our commuter car parks
WSP is proud to continue supporting multiple contractors to deliver the Commuter Car Park Program for Transport for NSW. The design work we delivered including, Building services as well as Structural and Civil services considered many of the NSW decarbonisation initiatives such as enabling electric cars to be charged at the commuter car parks.
Ivan Pena, WSP’s Director of Building Services, says, “We also consider the use of solar system designs to assist with the ongoing electricity usage. Future proofing these commuter car parks in such a way prepares us for the future trend of electric vehicles as they become more and more accessible to all.”
For more information on our involvement on the NSW Government’s Commuter Car Park Program, contact Ivan Pena.
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